$30M Keystone mixed-use project seeks city approval

A $30 million, mixed-use project proposed for the southwest corner of 86th Street and Keystone Avenue will take what could be the first step toward city approval this week, but a prominent neighborhood group objects to the plan.

Hendricks Commercial Properties wants to build a five-story, L-shaped building with more than 36,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and 130 high-end apartments on the upper floors. Construction of the building, which would replace the vacant Woodfield Centre retail strip, could start this spring and be complete by the end of the year, said Mike Cook, the local attorney representing the Beloit, Wis., developer.

Dubbed Ironworks at Keystone Village, the project has grown since last May, when it was being promoted to potential tenants at the annual International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas. At that time, Hendricks envisioned a four-story building with 40 fewer apartments and about 30,000 square feet of retail space.

The height of the building, about 68 feet, and its closeness to 86th Street are the main sticking points for the Nora-Northside Community Council, whose board voted unanimously Jan. 3 to oppose the project.

"Our brand is beautification of the 86th Street corridor," said Ruth Hayes, president of the group. She said "putting a 5-/12-story brick wall up against the street" is counter to that beautification goal.

Hayes is concerned that the Ironworks project, named for a project Hendricks developed in Beloit, could set a precedent for more mid-rise buildings being allowed up against 86th Street.

Urban planners typically applaud the idea of buildings built at the street edge, but along 86th Street it's more common to see parking lots screened by landscaping hugging the street. Ironworks calls for 365 surface parking spaces behind the building and 184 underground spaces.

Nora-Northside will remonstrate when the project comes before the Metropolitan Development Commission hearing examiner Jan. 10. The project is likely to be heard by the full Metropolitan Development Commission Feb. 6 regardless of the hearing examiner's recommendation.

Though the 6.4-acre property is already developed for commercial use, the site's commercial-special zoning category requires that anything built there go through the zoning process. Hendricks' petition also seeks approval for a 4,050-square-foot commercial structure to be built on an outlot south of the main building.

Retail real estate brokers told IBJ for a story last June that Ironworks, which would be built along one of the richest retail corridors in the state, could easily command rents in the $30-per-square-foot range. The site is across the street from the Fashion Mall at Keystone at the Crossing, which houses the only Indiana location for Saks and other high-end retailers.

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